A good signifier of the state of British sport is the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
Organised by the country’s public service broadcaster, the event currently consists of nine awards. The most prestigious, however, is the Sports Personality of the Year accolade itself.
Every time December rolls around, a list of Britain’s most talented sport stars is compiled and put up to public vote.
This year, cricketer Ben Stokes was triumphant after his heroics in both the Cricket World Cup final and the third Test of the Ashes series. He was the obvious choice among the shortlist of six, so much so that presenter Gary Lineker accidentally labelled him as the winner before voting had even begun.
The nomination list was relatively short, with the same number of athletes last year but nowhere near the 12 of 2018 or the 16 of 2017. It would be unfair to say that this is due to a poor year for British sport, though.
All of those nominated - Stokes, Dina Asher-Smith, Katerina Johnson-Thompson, Lewis Hamilton, Alun Wyn Jones and Raheem Sterling - were fully deserving, but there are a number of athletes that could have also made the list.
First up are two athletes from the pool. Alice Tai has had a stunning year, breaking multiple world records and claiming seven gold medals at the World Para Swimming Championships in London.
The 20-year-old has been recognised elsewhere for her achievements, becoming the first Para-swimmer to be named British Swimming’s Athlete of the Year. She was also announced as The Sunday Times Disability Sportswoman of the Year.
Fellow swimmer Adam Peaty is another athlete that could have easily made the shortlist. The 24-year-old began his meteoric rise in 2014, going into the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju this summer with six world titles already.
There, he broke his own world record in the semi-final of the 100 metres breaststroke with a time of 56.88sec, becoming the first man to swim under 57 seconds in the event before anybody else had even swam under 58 seconds. Peaty went on the win the final in that event.
Not content with one gold medal, he triumphed in the 50m backstroke to complete the triple double at the World Championships. Victory in the 4x100m medley relay followed, with Peaty helping a British team win the event for the first time in the competition’s history.
Another record-breaker deserves a place among the best of 2019, although her feat admittedly came too late to make the Sports Personality of the Year list. Fallon Sherrock made headlines around the world after becoming the first woman to win a match at the World Darts Championships, coming back from a 2-1 deficit to overcome Ted Evetts 3-2.
The crowd in Alexandra Palace were jubilant at her victory, and the resulting video of the moment has given darts an unrivalled amount of global media attention.
Also receiving unprecedented media attention this year was the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. In the United Kingdom, 47 per cent of the population watched England’s semi-final defeat to the United States, with the figure of 11.7 million the highest live audience of 2019 at the time. Two of England’s players could have made a strong case to be shortlisted.
Ellen White scored six goals in the tournament, finishing as joint top-scorer alongside Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan of the US, though with less assists. Her performances saw her nominated for the Best FIFA Women’s Player accolade.
Team-mate Lucy Bronze finished second at the award ceremony, having completed the league, cup and UEFA Women’s Champions League treble with French side Lyon. She was also named the second-best player of the Women’s World Cup, scoring a stunning goal against Norway in the quarter-final. Bronze was again runner-up in the Women’s Ballon d’Or, considered the most prestigious accolade for footballers.
Another World Cup took place this year, with rugby’s flagship tournament held across Japan. England went on yet another impressive run, only faltering in the final against South Africa. Maro Itoje was one of the star players for England during that time, also impressing at a club level with Saracens, who claimed their second domestic and European double this year.
Two boxers could have made the shortlist, with both the men and women’s World Championships taking place in Russia. Lauren Price of Wales took the middleweight world title in Ulan-Ude, having also received gold at the European Games in Minsk.
Pat McCormack of England was another winner at the European Games, topping the podium in the welterweight. He could not do the same at the World Championships in Yekaterinburg unfortunately, but still went home with a silver medal.
Jade Jones was another British athlete to claim a global title this year, winning the under-57 kilogram category at the World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester. It was the two-time Olympic champion’s first world gold medal after finishing third in 2017 and second in 2011.
Bianca Walkden also impressed after achieving her third consecutive world title in the over-73kg.
Canoe-sprint athlete Liam Heath received little recognition despite another impressive year. The Olympic champion secured a place at next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo after winning the K1 200m event at the Canoe Sprint World Championships in Hungary. Heath remains unbeaten in the discipline since 2017.
Including these athletes may have resulted in a more fair reflection of the British sporting landscape this year. Whether they manage to continue to impress and make the shortlist in 12 months time remains to be seen.
It may be somewhat harder with Tokyo 2020 around the corner...